Ontario Weeds: Wild garlic

Return to the Ontario Weeds Gallery

Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Wild garlic, Allium vineale L.,

Other Names: ail des vignes, Field garlic, Scallions, Wild onion

Family: Lily Family (Liliaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by 3 kinds of bulbs.

Photos and Pictures

Wild garlic (left to right - base of mature plant, hard-shelled bulbs, young plants, germinated bulblets, aerial bulblets, (top, right) kernels of wheat).
Wild garlic (left to right - base of mature plant, hard-shelled bulbs, young plants, germinated bulblets, aerial bulblets, (top, right) kernels of wheat).

Wild garlic. A. Base of plant. B. Top of plant. C. Hard-shelled bulbs. D. Aerial bulblet.

Wild garlic. A. Base of plant. B. Top of plant. C. Hard-shelled bulbs. D. Aerial bulblet.

Stems & Roots: Young plants very grass-like in appearance with erect, slender, rounded or flattened, smooth-textured leaves; flowering stems erect, mostly unbranched, 30-100cm (12-40in.) high, round, solid or sometimes hollow; stem leaves with a tubular sheath and long slender blades; the blades channeled or flattened near the base, thicker and nearly round towards the tip.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in a head-like cluster (umbels) at the tip of the stem, each cluster at first surrounded by a papery bract or spathe; each flower with 6 small petals, greenish to white, pink or purplish-red, 6 stamens and 1 pistil, but usually most or all flowers replaced by small bulblets; bulblets about 3-5mm (1/8-1/5in.) long and closely resembling but much smaller than the bulbs normally produced in the base of the plant. Base of plant usually producing 2 kinds of bulbs, a soft-shelled bulb that is teardrop-shaped, usually 8-17mm (1/3-2/3in.) long and white, and hard-shelled bulbs which are light brownish, about the same size but distinctly flattened on 1 side and with a thick, hard shell. The whole plant has a very strong garlic odour. The flower or bulblet heads are produced during July and August and when growing in fields of wheat, oats or barley, may be harvested with the grain. They shatter readily into individual bulblets that cannot easily be separated from the cereal grain because of their size and shape.

Habitat: Wild garlic occurs only in the Niagara peninsula of southern Ontario, growing in fields, vineyards, roadsides and edges of woods. Other kinds of Wild onion also grow in Ontario but their aerial bulblets, if produced at all, are two to three times larger than those of Wild garlic, and hardshelled bulbs are rarely produced in the bases of these plants.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its slender erect stems and leaves, its soft, smooth texture, its cluster of little bulblets instead of flowers at the tips of stems, its hard-shelled bulbs produced around the mother bulb in the ground, and the strong garlic odour in all parts of the plant.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

| Back to the Ontario Weeds Gallery |


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003